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REVIEW: Fantasy Island

Sony Pictures
Rated: PG-13
Run Time: 109 minutes
Director: Jeff Wadlow

I have a pet peeve with Youtube. When I’m up late at night listening to calming music, I often find myself assaulted with a mandatory ad for an upcoming horror flick. It ruins my whole bedtime routine because I then have to watch a Disney movie to rid myself of the heebie-jeebies. I know it’s pathetic, but I can’t even handle scary movie trailers during the daytime, and I cover my eyes when they come on during previews at the theater. So, thank goodness for Fantasy Island: its existence feels like comeuppance for every time my Frozen sing-a-longs have been interrupted by screechy violins, panicked screams, and creepy voices. Based on a popular 70’s TV show of the same name, the movie Fantasy Island comes with a horror twist on the show’s theme: be careful what you wish for.  

The premise is that the titular island manifests for its visitors the deepest wishes of their heart; but gradually, their fantasies twist and degrade into lethal nightmares. It seems the island had the same effect on the producers of this film, as their fantasy project of recreating an intriguing concept eroded into the disappointing final product that I saw in theaters over the weekend. Everything the movie had going for it went bad like week-old pizza—uncompelling characters (despite being portrayed by seasoned, talented actors), eyeroll-inducing dialogue, and a total lack of fear or danger felt by the audience (remember, this is coming from a total wimp). If Hallmark made a horror film, this is what it would look like.  

The perfect description of this movie lies in one of its characters—Dr. Torture. A giant with bulging, veiny muscles (imagine Kronk from Emperor’s New Groove, but bent on murder and wearing scrubs); he avoids asserting his size, and instead chooses tiny, surgical tools to intimidate the protagonists. He spends most of his screen-time jabbing a 1-inch blade at people or waving a bone saw with the diameter of a Girl Scout cookie. He could probably kill you with his bare hands, but instead he goes about attempting to murder the protagonists in such inconvenient ways that it almost feels like a spoof. Likewise, the movie itself felt full of untapped potential, yet clumsy and confusing in its execution. 

Portia Doubleday and Lucy Hale in a scene of Fantasy Island | Sony Pictures

What can be said for Fantasy Island, however, is that it was entirely unpredictable. I kept thinking I had it figured out, and every time I was proved wrong. I found myself leaning closer and closer to the screen, brows furrowed and resting my chin on my hands, as if those extra movements would somehow help me solve the mystery. I was surprisingly invested in the wild roller coaster, even if it all seemed to have no rhyme or reason.  By the end, it still lacked rhyme or reason, and even though I found the cinematic journey entertaining, I would skip this one and go see one of the many other horror flicks available this month.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, if you share my YouTube pet peeve), the horror genre has survived worse and will no doubt survive this, too. I fully expect the next venture by Blumhouse Productions to be bone-chilling and terrifying. But for now, Fantasy Island has me sleeping easy.

Recommendation: NO GO

About the Author
Although I consider myself equally Californian, Oregonian, Nevadan, and Mexican, I currently reside in Reno, “The Biggest Little City in the World!" I love watching and playing most sports (I played rugby in college) but since I’m an adult with bills to pay, I also work in surgery at a local hospital. I come from a big family; if you speak Spanish I’ll force you to be my friend to help me practice. Most importantly, I’m super excited to be a part of Backseat Directors!

5 comments on REVIEW: Fantasy Island

  1. Samantha Earl says:

    If horror movies have such a negative impact on you, what is it that drew you to see this movie? Was it required as a writer?

  2. Samantha Earl says:

    First of all, I love your style of writing! I was laughing audibly throughout your review. But I have to ask—what drew you to see this movie if horror is not your genre?

    1. Rachel Ogden says:

      Thank you! 🙂 I did pick this film to review (though I was the last in the writer’s group to make a selection for the month) because I knew my sister wanted to see it and movies are more fun with friends!

  3. Jer Bear says:

    Killer review!!! I absolutely love your writing. I I I kept reading to see what you’d say next, just like a good movie!! Can’t wait to hear what else you review.

    1. Rachel Ogden says:

      Wow, you are so kind, thank you for reading! I’m so glad you found it entertaining!

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